Monday, July 15, 2013

Review: A Complicated Kindness

A Complicated Kindness
A Complicated Kindness by Miriam Toews

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Let's first just get out of the way how geeked out I was to see a reference to Reach for the Top, having myself been geeky enough in high school to have been at the provincial finals one year.

I really, really liked this book. It seemed to have the perfect balance between things I could relate to and things that the author was teaching me about a group of people that I have never known much about (in particular, I thought the Mennonites were much more like the Amish and I assumed that at the very least there'd be no TV.) The narrator's voice felt authentic, as did the situation of her friend Lids, who saddened me a great deal.

"That I belong within the frightful fresco of this man’s dream unnerves me."

"The mark of the beast? Streets paved in gold? Seven white horses? What? Fuck off. I dream of escaping into the real world."

"I wanted to experience goodness and humanity outside of any religious framework."

Okay, so it was a bit odd to find a lot of my very atheist teenage thoughts mirrored here in the voice of a teenage Mennonite, who spent a lot of the book worried her sister was going to go to hell. Granted, I related a lot to Nomi and the restlessness that comes from growing up in a small town, feeling cut off from the big city.

"It was the same feeling you get when you’ve spent a lot of time with a friend or relatives or someone and you’re kind of sick of them and want to be alone again but then the time comes for them to leave and suddenly more than anything you don’t want them to go and you act really nice again and run around doing things for them but you know that time is running out and then when they’re gone you’re kind of relieved but also sad that you hadn’t been a better friend and you tell yourself next time for sure I’ll be a better friend. And you kind of want to call them up and apologize for being a jerk but at the same time you don’t want to start something stupid and you hope the feeling will just go away and that nobody hates you."

So perfectly what it is like to be at home visiting the family for more then ten days at a time.

"I also liked it because every time I looked at it I was reminded that I was, at that very moment, not bleeding from my face. And those are powerful words of hope, really."

One of my best friends always tells me that you don't need to worry until you're bleeding from the eyes. And I have also always found that cheering and hopeful.

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